Ontario Community Council on Impaired Driving (OCCID) provides leadership and programs to eliminate impaired driving in Ontario and enables people and communities to share resources and information that will prevent injuries and save lives.
Government Bill on Impaired Driving
Impaired Driving In Canada
The Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) reports that in 1996, over 70,000 people in Canada were charged by police with impaired driving. In 1996, 133 people were charged with impaired driving causing death a number that has remained relatively constant since the 1990s. In 1987, the first year in which all Canadian jurisdictions reported statistics, 43 per cent of fatally injured drivers had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding the Criminal Code limit of 80 mg per 100 mL of blood. In 1995, 35 per cent of fatally injured drivers had a BAC exceeding the legal limit.
While the rate of impaired driving and the number of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities have declined since the 1980s, the current incidence of impaired driving remains unacceptable to Canadians. Impaired drivers put themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk. A 1999 Insurance Corporation of British Columbia report indicates that in each of 1995, 1996 and 1997, impaired drivers and their passengers comprised more than 80 per cent of all impaired driving deaths in British Columbia.
Impaired driving offences have the highest conviction rate of any Criminal Code offence. According to the CCJS, of the 50,000 people in nine jurisdictions found guilty of impaired driving in 1995-96, 66 per cent were sentenced to pay a fine (the median fine was $500), 22 per cent received imprisonment (the median prison term was 30 days), nine per cent received probation and three per cent received other sentences.
Despite important progress, impaired driving continues to be a serious problem in Canada with wide-ranging and tragic consequences for victims, their families and communities as a whole.
Standing Committee Review of Impaired Driving
At the request of the House of Commons, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights began a review of the impaired driving provisions in the Criminal Code on December 3, 1998. The purpose of the Committees review was to propose amendments to the Code that would enhance deterrence and ensure that penalties reflect the seriousness of the offence.
The Committee held more than a dozen public hearings and heard from over 30 witnesses including police associations, victims, safety-oriented organizations such as MADD, health and addiction experts, motor vehicle associations, forensic scientists, researchers and representatives from the criminal justice system. The Committee also received over 50 written submissions from a wide range of individuals and organizations.
Testimony before the Committee highlighted the complex and interdependent mix of criminal and administrative sanctions for impaired driving currently in place at the federal and provincial-territorial levels, and underscored the need for federal-provincial-territorial collaboration on this issue. Provincial and territorial governments provided the Committee with information about extensive administrative initiatives and legislation to fight impaired driving in their respective jurisdictions.
On May 25, 1999, the Committee tabled its report, Toward Eliminating Impaired Driving.
Of the 17 recommendations in the Committees report, nine were included in the draft bill that accompanied the report. While some technical changes have been made to the Committees draft legislation, the Governments bill, tabled today, reflects its spirit and intent.
The proposals for reform in the bill will:
Through these amendments, the Government of Canada intends to ensure that the criminal law fulfills its role, in combination with other measures aimed at eradicating impaired driving, by sending a strong message that impaired driving will not be tolerated.
In addition to the proposed changes to the Criminal Code in the Committees draft bill, the Committee made eight other recommendations concerning: improved collaboration and consultation between the federal and provincial-territorial governments on prosecution and enforcement issues; a review of the Criminal Code to consider the advisability of creating new sanctions or provisions to address outstanding issues such as flight from police and drug-impaired driving; public information and education; and more comprehensive research and policy development.
The Committee also recommended that the House of Commons review the operation of the impaired driving provisions of the Criminal Code in five years.
The Government will respond to all the Committees recommendations by the 150-day deadline required by Parliament. As proposed by the Committee, the provinces and territories, who share jurisdiction in the area of impaired driving, will be consulted.
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Department of Justice